College Notes: Butler A Diving Force At UMass
Jan. 7, 2013
By: John Garner Jr., Cape Cod Times
When Michaela Butler was growing up, the closest she got to a diving board was driving past the YMCA pool in West Barnstable.
The Dennisport native competed at a high level in gymnastics and track at Dennis-Yarmouth, but had no experience as a competitive diver.
Butler led the Dolphins track team to an ACL Championship as a senior MVP, setting school records as part of in the 4x50 relay, 4x200 relay, and triple jump relay.
She also competed in club gymnastics, winning a Level 9 state championship as a freshman and Level 9 Regional Championship as a sophomore.
But despite no background in diving, the redshirt junior has taken to the sport like a duck to water at UMass-Amherst. During the Frank Elm Invitational Nov. 19 against top competitors from host Rutgers, Columbia, Boston University, Villanova, Army and Coast Guard, Butler captured first-place finishes in the one and three-meter diving events. In the one-meter, Butler set a UMass record with a preliminary score of 295.90 and notched 271.90 in the finals. She set another school record in the three-meter dive with an impressive score of 347.75 during prelims, 37 points higher than the previous record. She captured the finals with a score of 339.75.
"My gymnastics background has really helped (my development) as a diver," said Butler, who's majoring in kinesiology with a minor in psychology. "It's takes a lot of practice and determination, especially at the college level."
UMass defeated Northeasten last month, 158-142 and Butler made it a clean sweep by capturing the three and one-meter dives with scores of 267.97 and 277.27.
Last year in the NCAA Diving championships, Butler placed 11th in the three-meter (534.60) and 12th in the one-meter (479.85) and captured gold medals in the one (260.85) and three-meter (287.00) dives at the Atlantic 10 Championship.
During 2011-12, she finished first in the one-meter (255.07) and three meter (260.18) against Fordham and swept both events at the Rhode Island Invite and in dual meets against Northeastern, Binghamton, Army and BU.
As a freshman, she won the silver medal in the three-meter dive in her first A-10 Championship with a score of 259.75, the eighth best score in school history, while taking fifth in the one-meter dive (224.35). Michaela finished second in the three-meter (235.73) and first in the one-meter (219.22) dive against Fordham and registered a third-place finish in the one-meter dive (206.32) at Colgate.
Butler and her Minutewomen teammates are currently on a training trip in San Juan, Puerto Rico and return to action Jan. 11 for the Rhode Island Invitational.
"UMass is an awesome place to compete and go to college," said Butler. "I've had a chance to make great friends and travel to different places."
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